The Legend of Vox Machina S1: Meet Exandria’s Unlikeliest Group of Heroes - SciFiNow

The Legend of Vox Machina S1: Meet Exandria’s Unlikeliest Group of Heroes

We review episodes one-six of Critical Role’s adult animated series, The Legend of Vox Machina.

The Legend of Vox Machina

Following the record-breaking 2019 Kickstarter campaign, Critical Role’s adult animated fantasy-adventure series is finally here. Based on the ‘nerdy-ass’ voice actors’ first live-streamed dungeons and dragons campaign, which ran from March 2015 to November 2017, the highly anticipated 12-episode series hits streaming service Prime Video after three years in the making – and it’s every bit as bonkers, bloody and heartfelt as expected!

The Legend of Vox Machina centres on the titular rag-tag band of misfits as they embark on a seemingly straightforward mission – to bring down a beast destroying local towns and villages – only to discover much more sinister forces at work. As the kingdom of Exandria is threatened by evil magical entities, the bickering mercenaries for hire set out to restore order in the realm, one giant middle finger at a time.

The accomplished team of writers waste no time immersing you in the adult humour, blood and gore by cleverly subverting fantasy expectations – gruesomely killing off a group of champions straight off the bat. With five story arcs of content from over 370 hours of gameplay to pull from, the six episodes serve as a brilliant introduction into the vast and dense universe. Propelled by a chaotic and hilarious tavern brawl, the oddball group quickly set out on their journey – running into familiar foes along the way. With so much ground to cover, the brisk pacing and intriguing mystery drives the central narrative. 

Amongst the hilarious moments in their adventures (Scanlon’s songs and the long running game between Grog and Vax are a real joy), the writers strike an impressive tonal balance between the more emotional character moments and the darker, horror elements introduced with this season’s key antagonists who share history with a certain gun wielding Vox Machina member.

But it’s the beloved cast voicing and reprising their respective roles, along with the endearing group dynamics, which truly brings the series to life. Willingham’s brawny yet soft character Grog and his sweet friendship with Johnson’s Pike proves a real standout, alongside the gang’s interactions with fan favourites Trinket the bear and sorcerer merchant Gilmore. What’s so wonderful about the series is that there’s so much more than meets the eye to this ragtag bunch of misfits, as they’re afforded backstories with great depth and emotional arcs interwoven throughout the central quest. Also, be sure to keep your eyes open for several cameos from the illustrious DM Matt Mercer, as he is immortalised in the faces of a number of NPCs.

The incredible character design from Young Justice artist Phil Bourassa, combined with creative and colourful animation by studio Titmouse, is wonderfully rendered and filled to the brim with fantastical elements. There’s a great deal for d&d and animation fans alike to enjoy in the immersive magical realm, along with a loving nod to many of the voiceover actors’ roots, with plenty of anime inspiration ranging from Naruto to Attack on Titan. Also, the numerous kinetic fight sequences are filled with plenty of blood splatter and gore, proving as brutal as recent Prime Video superhero series Invincible.

Bold, bloody and full of heart, The Legend of Vox Machina is a real delight for fans new and old alike. With a gripping central narrative and endearing character dynamics, it’s easy to be swept away in this magical adventure. 

The first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina premiere on 28 January on Prime Video, with three episodes dropping every week.